"Breaking Bad" and "Homeland" breaks barriers on the idiot tube

Truthfully. Is there anything out there right now in theaters as gripping as Walter White's absurd chemistry teacher gone bad story in Breaking Bad? Or Clair Danes' paranoid/bipolar CIA agent gone psycho in Homeland? I didn't think so. Homeland and Breaking Bad are doing at the moment what The Sopranos started 10 years ago; bringing the quality between the big screen and the small screen closer and closer together. There is no longer as big a gap as there used to be. It's not stretch to say that the two show mentioned are better than 90% of the stuff I see on a yearly basis in theaters. Is it the state of film that's crumbling? Or is it just that we are just  in the midst of the golden age of Television? I think it's both. Name me one great Hollywood movie you saw this year? (and NO foreign films don't count) .. Yea .. I didn't think so. Unless you -of course- consider The Hunger Games a masterful piece of cinema or better yet the cash grabbing violence in the Avengers as grippingly real as Walter and Gus' epic duel of wits.



In Breaking Bad Walter White's transition from loser/ high school chemistry teacher to Scarface-level insanity is almost too preposterous to believe. Here's a man that had nothing really exciting going for him in life and then came a medical diagnosis that put him in the ultimate of all mid life crisis's. A panic so severe that takes him on a meth-cooking journey to hell. Walt grows before our eyes in the series' 5 thrilling seasons and it is a testament to Bryan Cranston's acting chops that we believe his journey every step of the way. If you notice the quality and tension of the show only grows as each season goes along.  It's no wonder that Cranston - a veteran actor of more than 3 decades- won 3 straight Emmy's for his legendary portrayal of a monsterish anti-hero. Creator Vince Gilligan has consistently said that Walter's story is that of "Mr.Chips turning into Scarface" - he's not at all exaggerating. Walter White's story is one of those "you gotta see it to believe it" TV phenomenons that don't come on the tube that often. The direction is also better than anything I've seen in American movies, in fact Gilligan has persuaded quite a few film directors to make the jump to the small screen and direct his show. The list includes film noir expert John Dahl (The Last Seduction) and Rian Johnson (Looper).  Kudos must also go to Aaron Paul as Jesse, Walt's cooking partner and confident. Their friendship is that of highs and lows, fights and hugs and -ultimately- hidden betrayals. In fact, the entire cast is top notch from Dean Norris' Hank to Johnathan Banks' Mike the hitman. There's not telling what will happen in the series' final 8 episodes -which are set to air next summer- but one thing's for sure; the surprises have surely only started.


On the other hand Homeland is the rookie on the block. A show that only started its run in 2011 yet left such a lasting impression that it just won Emmys for Best Drama Series Best Actor and Best Actress, beating such stalwarts like Breaking Bad and Mad Men. In fact the show's surprising win left many "baddies" with a feeling of anger that their beloved show didn't get top prize. Know what? I bet they haven't seen a single episode of  the gripping Homeland, because if they did they'd realize just how good the show really is. With its mix of family issues and terrorist plots the series is a tightly knit puzzle that has irresistible tension. Claire Danes' Carrie - a bipolar CIA operative with enough obsessive thoughts to drive a therapist mad- is the heart and soul of the show. She reveals with each ongoing episode the hidden truths that hide in her deeply scarred soul. Carrie is keeping a close eye on Sergeant Brody -played by Damian Lewis- an AWOL prisoner of war that is finally found in Iraq and has Carrie second guessing his legitimacy and whether he might be a possible terrorist threat. It's a juicy plot that doesn't take the easy way out, everything you think is coming isn't. Twists are abound in Homeland but more importantly it's the way those twists are revealed -with such professional realism- that makes this show a keeper. Danes and Lewis -both respective Emmy winners- raise Homeland to the level of art with performances so good they make you forget these actors are just playing a game called "acting". If you've seen that happen in a Hollywood movie of late please mention that movie because my list is pretty empty.
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